Sealed vs Ported Subwoofer Boxes

In case you’re following this website lately, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of adding subs in your car audio setup.

Not only do they produce better bass frequency response, but they also help in taking the load off your regular speakers and provide you rich, distortion-free music overall.

Yes, it’s going to cost you some money upfront but, considering the value you’ll get out of it, it would be worth every penny.

But having a subwoofer is not enough, as you also need a subwoofer enclosure/box for maximum performance. This is where you’ll get two options: Sealed Enclosure and Ported Enclosure.

Sealed vs Ported Subwoofer Boxes

Both of these types have their own benefits and drawbacks, and which one you should go for would depend on your personal choice.

Sealed Subwoofer Box

As their name suggest, sealed boxes have the subs placed inside a closed box . Since the air is sealed inside these boxes, it functions as a shock absorber and allows the cone of your subwoofer to move back and forth accurately.

This accurate movement produces controlled sound waves which, in turn, lead to accurate bass production. They are easier to build as they’re smaller in size and don’t have any port to tune.

Their compact size also makes them preferred option if there’s low space.

But the downside is that the cone needs more power to produce sound at same volume than it would in a ported box – meaning more load on your amplifier.

The overall lifespan of your subwoofer is also reduced slightly because of higher temperature as it can’t breathe in fresh air.

Music genres like Pop, Rock, and Alt Rock generally sound better with sealed sub enclosures.

Pros

  • Compact size
  • Accurate/clear bass production

Cons

  • Restricted cone movement
  • Not as loud as ported boxes

Ported/Vented Subwoofer Box

On the contrary, we have ported or vented subwoofer boxes.

Although looking similar to the sealed enclosures, ported enclosure come with single or multiple ports/vents that allow the sound waves from the rear of the subwoofer cone to combine with the sound waves coming from the front, resulting in greater output at any wattage.

This greater output, and the fact that the cone is much more free to move, results in higher volume compared to sealed enclosures.

These enclosures have larger size than sealed ones, and their performance largely depends on the tuning of their port. There are some smaller-sized ported boxes as well. But they don’t perform as good as their bigger siblings.

Apart from that, they are good at power efficiency and you don’t necessarily need a high-end amp. Not to forget about the longevity these boxes provide to your subwoofer by keeping it cooler.

These sub enclosures are better suited for genres like EDM, R&B, and Rap.

With that said, you’ll have to take some issues into consideration as well.

Since these are harder to build, you should only get one from well-reputed companies, like kicker. Buying a cheap model from a 2nd-grade manufacture can result in below-par performance as well as damage to the subwoofer.

Lastly, many subs aren’t build to be placed inside these ported boxes. So make sure to check the manual or research online before making any purchase.

Pros

  • Louder sound
  • Thumping bass
  • Subwoofer longevity
  • More power effecient

Cons

  • Require more space
  • Bass response can be dull or muddy
  • Little distortion in some genres

Conclusion

If thumping bass is your no.1 priority, then you should go for ported boxes.

But if you want clarity in your sound with well-defined (but slightly lesser) bass, then sealed boxes would be better option. Sealed boxes are also preferred if you’re building an enclosure on your own, since they’re easier to design and build.

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